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Development Policy: UN SDGs Initiate a New Chapter in Development Cooperation

The UN’s sustainable development goals will transform national and international development cooperation. The prominent role assigned to the private sector represents a significant innovation.

The drive for global sustainability gathered steam with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in autumn 2015. Unlike the preceding Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the SDGs apply to all: developing countries, emerging economies, and industrial nations alike. The SDGs will bring about great change in national and international development cooperation and open a new chapter in the relationship between sustainability and economic growth.

Business as motor of sustainable development

The prominent role assigned to the private sector in implementing the development goals is a notable new feature. Business is indeed a driver of sustainable development, creating jobs, infrastructure, and innovations. The global demand for roads, bridges, airports, hospitals, and schools is enormous, as is the need for food, consumer goods, and education. Despite the risks involved, investments in developing countries are increasingly perceived as business opportunities.

A place at the negotiating table

Business must be included in the process of defining its role in achieving the sustainable development goals. The instruments of cooperation need to be used and if necessary redesigned. In particular, intelligent funding instruments need to be created and expanded in order to promote investment in developing countries and emerging economies. In particular, with regard to SMEs, suitable funding arrangements are usually lacking. Additionally, sustainability criteria should be given greater attention in tendering procedures in order to draw out the strengths of German industry with respect to quality and environmental standards.